Holidays and Emotional Fireworks

When I struggle emotionally, I’m prone to feel like a freak, utterly unrelatable, like no one else suffers from my particular malady, be it anger explosions or self-loathing or battling envy.

And man, what is up with the holidays and emotion overload?  I swear I start off excited to enjoy a special holiday with my family but many times, I sabotage my own happiness.

On Friday night before Fourth of July Monday, we set off for K’s mom’s house in CT.  During the tornado watch.  But we didn’t just set off as easily as that prior sentence sounds.  I only worked on Monday so that I can be with the kids the rest of the week after M’s school let out Tuesday at noon .  We kept active and social with playground runs, a trip to MoMA, and playdates, but by Friday, I was feeling agitated.  Spent.

When K got home that night, I was already in a mood.  I was taking the boys’ not listening too personally.  Also, unbeknownst to me, I was nervous about our CT weekend, an emotional minefield.  We hadn’t seen his brother’s family in too long so I became nervous and also subconsciously flashbacked to how unsafe I had felt with these in-laws in the past (though we are now pleasant with each other the few times we meet up, thank you Lawd).

During a jog around the neighborhood after K got home to relieve me, the damn sabotage cycle commenced.

My thought balloon formed as I jogged: “Why can’t I just stay home?  That way, I don’t have to feel nervous and not be all self-conscious about how to do my face while on this other planet called Greenwich.  It doesn’t have to be terrible like when K and I had a huge fight on a previous holiday and they actually left without me.  Why can’t I calmly just state that I am sorry to cancel but I will be taking three days for myself, without it turning into drama?”

But I knew I was wrong.  I had agreed to this CT weekend weeks ago and part of our recurring fight cycle is that for holidays, emotions overwhelm me and I want to bone out, when most of the time, word is bond for me and I do NOT flake.

I have open wounds about living across the country from my own family and friends for almost every holiday, previous holiday sabotaging and fight cycles, childhood wounds and all sorts of lovely shit.

Only in hindsight, as in NOW, as I write this four days later, I realize that I wanted K to connect and engage me after my tough day with the kids.  Instead, because he does not get as emotionally overwhelmed when taking care of them (he advises that I learn to tune them out sometimes), he does not fully know how to connect with me when I am pissy about a bad afternoon with them.  Pissy because I feel like I failed, pissy because I feel like I’m not the more patient version of myself from just a few years ago.

And he also wants to give me space to breathe.  I want that too but I also want him to come alongside me and help me untangle my feelings.

So when I said I may stay back, I think I wanted him to affirm me.  I wanted him to say, “You can gift yourself with some Me Time next week, I assure you, but this holiday weekend, I beg of you, to please join us because *we are not the same without you.*  We need you.  You bring a fun spirit to our family and make everything more magical.  I know you are feeling nervous about CT and I understand, but I will not abandon you or leave you to otherwise fend for yourself if you feelin’ unsafe…”  (BECAUSE YES, DON’T ALL MEN SPEAK JUST LIKE OPRAH?)

To K’s credit, he did try to cobble together a version of this statement but he also got frustrated when we started squabbling and said what I could not take at the time:  “Don’t worry, we will be JUST FINE without you.  No problem.  You will just regret not coming because you love to be out in nature and you will miss out on your kids.”

I was hurt so I lashed out, “FINE?!  NO PROB?!  MISS OUT ON NATURE?!  Oh, don’t worry about me!  I can get with some nature all by my damn self while you guys are just fine without me in CT!  AND I AM SO FUN.  I BRING THE FUN TO THIS FAMILY.”  (See?  When I don’t get affirmed, I start affirming myself but also insulting K, who is pretty damn fun.)

So many times, my emotional response is to skip Sadness and land on Anger.  Sadness feels like it could crack me wide open.  Sadness feels like I have no power.  Anger deceives me into thinking I have power in the explosive fireworks I unleash.

After much delay, we got on the road late at night.  Not all was well but at least I was able to get in the car this time.   I felt like a failure for keeping the boys waiting as we fought, and now that M is bigger, he even started imploring me to join them on the CT trip and laying out reasons why I should go.  It hurt my heart to hear him try to persuade me.

Going forward, I need to be able to VULNERABLY take a risk and say, “K, I am feeling all kinds of things re CT especially after a tough afternoon with the boys.  Can you please remind me of why I should go and also why I am needed in this family, though you seem to be able to handle it all without me?”

But OMG, who can speak like that?!  I think I am a very raw and vulnerable person but to ask exactly for what you need emotionally!?  It feels like I am giving him ALL THE ANSWERS on the Scantron test so all the correct “answers” are cheating.

To be continued…I hope?  Maybe.  (Because I gotta write about Saturday, too).

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bonding with Daddy’s friend’s family

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I’m so glad I went.

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Look what washed up in Madison, CT!

P.S.  In this age of social media, I need to remind those who are struggling during the holidays to know that the perfect red-white-and-blue photos are only part of the story.  Beautiful memories WERE created but there are demons to slay to get to the Kodak moments.  At least with me and my family.

 

 

06.16.16 Meantime Marvel

Yesterday, a local mama and LA mama friend wrote me on 06.16.16, remembering my date fetish that officially started with my 07.07.07 nuptials.  One asked where my 06.16.16 post at so here it is, J!  Thanks for the query, kekeke.

I had noted the triple 6 date but didn’t get excited because I don’t like 6s.  When I see that many 6s, I gotta look down at my nails and shift my gaze.  I did get tickled that catchy dates made my friends holla.

I had a routine dentist appointment this morning and she informed me that I had broken a tooth.  She was sure that it was from grinding or clenching my teeth (even with my nightguard in)!  As I type this sentence, I can feel the jaw pain from the clenching I must be doing in my sleep.

Can’t help but wonder if my clenching has gotten worse considering the devastating news in the world, namely in Orlando, FL this past week alone.

On June 10th, a singer by the name of Christina Grimmie was shot and killed while signing autographs for her fans.

On June 12th, early Sunday, a gunman slaughtered 49 people at a gay nightclub, injuring at least 53 others.  Deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

On June 15th, the body of a two year-old boy, Lane Graves, was found intact after being carried off by an alligator outside Disney’s Grand Floridian resort.

All in Orlando within the past seven days.

And the blessing and curse of social media is that our eyes and ears are everywhere, even beyond the big news stories like Orlando, including recent kidnappings and children getting hurt out of nowhere.

I absorb all of this.  And I clench.

I am ever more vigilant.  I lecture the boys numerous times daily about not walking behind me but walking in front of me where I can see them clearly.  I even demonstrated what could happen if they continue to walk behind me but they enjoyed the dramatic snatch-demonstration too much:  “Do it again to me, Mommy.”

Excuse the clumsy transition as I have to eat lunch now but our family is in a season of life where we are awaiting next steps.  Blessed and intact but also hoping for change.

I heard a sermon yesterday called “Meantime.”  How sometimes we just want to know what’s up next and when we can get goin’ on Next and when He will provide for our immediate future, the prayers we been lifting up.  But then we end up treating the present like an afterthought:  “Man, I can’t wait ’til ______….in the meantime (sigghhhh)…” and poor Meantime is treated like some neglected stepchild (sermon by Toure Roberts).

The tragic events of this past week have made me extra thankful for my Meantime.

Though waiting on Him to answer prayers, I am pausing to memorialize our 06.16.16 Meantime, which included a Morsel-y Mundane Marvel of a Moment where our whole family stumbled upon an ant colony during an evening walk together after dinner.  We squealed, poked sticks and wondered aloud.  I then went for a jog so I can watch the sky.

The lives lost in Orlando made me realize all over again that we Moms just want our kids to be one thing, fine, two things when they grow up:  alive and well, and the rest is all noise.

Thank You, Lord, that I get to have a Meantime.

Rest in Peace to those lives lost in Orlando this past week.  You will not be forgotten.

Signs

I love big signs and I cannot lie.

Little signs too.  Anything, really.

I think I’ve always been this way.  Just like I’ve always loved stories and books and letters.

Signs help me keep the faith.

Kevin and I were in the midst of a huge blowout fight while at a Mets game.  I felt like I was the only weirdo in the stadium who just could not have a good time despite the phenomenal weather and being at my husband’s happy place.  This ridiculous fight that only kept spiraling.

Do others go through this, too?  When we have the rare child-free few hours, a lot of sh*t comes to light, maybe because we don’t have to censor ourselves any more?

Anyways, I called my best friend and said, “Let’s not even talk about this.  No need for commentary especially since you’re just gonna make fun of me.  Just pray for me, fool.  It’s like I’m determined to sabotage this day!  Why do I do this!?”

After laughing at me per usual, she prayed, “Please, Lord, may a friendly face in the crowds somehow minister to Jihee while she is upset.”

Minutes later, I run into our younger-than-us pastor, a Mets fanatic just like Kevin.  I wish I could report back that Kevin and I were able to salvage our Mets vs Dodgers afternoon but I would be lying.  We continued to fight so much that I told Kevin that we should at least fight in Korean in case folks live-Tweet our escalating exchange.

[And the irony is not lost on me that the game was Mets (Kevin) vs. Dodgers (LA/Jihee)].

Despite our horrible afternoon, when I find myself doubting or just feeling alone, I like to recall signs, or small answers to prayer, like running into our pastor immediately after my friend prayed for a friendly face.

Sometimes the signs are beautiful:  I was jogging and asking for forgiveness for lashing out in anger yet again and suddenly, I saw a cardinal fly onto someone’s porch.

I loved it.  What a gift.  Pigeons, robins, and even morning doves are more common in my NYC neighborhood but rarely do I get to behold a bright red cardinal.

Then another sign on the same morning as the cardinal.  I was about to step into the passenger seat of our mini-van to go to church after the cardinal-spotting jog, when I looked down at the wet road under my foot.  There was a gold heart smashed into the street.  Thank You, Lord.  Love, love, and more love when I needed it the most:  when I’m feeling like a failure for not having more control over my anger.

And yes, the words “Kate Spade” on the golden heart made it slightly less enchanting, but I choose to keep the sign free from commercialism please.  (Added bonus:  it was the morning of our friend’s baby sister’s wedding!)

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Other times, it’s a Bible verse shared on Facebook or a Bible verse I happen to stumble on when looking up a Proverb matching the day of the month:

It’s better to live alone in the desert than with a quarrelsome, complaining wife. – Proverbs 21:19 (New Living Translation)

And sure, I know that sometimes I am too much on the hunt for signs, hoping that the notecard floating in the wind will land on that patch of grass and reveal a perfect, timely message for me, only to realize that it was a teen’s handwritten study note about amino acids.

Nevertheless, thank You for signs.  I will keep looking.

 

5.5 on 5.25

This is a time capsule letter for my firstborn, my GloWorm, our MLK,

I meant to write you a proper letter for your 5th birthday but now, you are already about to turn five-and-a-half on 5.25.

Today is your first day back at Kindergarden after missing three days last week, including your step-up ceremony.  You were hospitalized for asthma for two nights and two-and-a-half days after the doctor could not get your oxygen levels up, even though she had given you three back-to-back-to-back doses of albuterol and steroids.

When we heard that you had to go to the ER, we all reacted differently.

Daddy became even calmer.  He said he had to.

I started crying as Daddy pressed the elevator button with you in his arms, after he had packed a few things.  “My podoh-ahl [grape pulp], the last time you had to be in the hospital was when you were born.  I want you home and healthy!”

Ellis was still his funny self, asking for second dinner and for Mommy to play hide and seek because Mommy was so preoccupied.  I snapped at him that I need some quiet and that I was sad.  But at night, when he realized that you and Daddy weren’t going to be home, he said, “I’m going to punch the doctors in the face for taking my bruddah away.”

Micah, when you and Daddy weren’t here, even for just that first night when Daddy slept over at the hospital with you, the apartment just felt wrong!

I felt like my heart was outside my body, sleeping over at the Children’s Hospital, wheezing and struggling to breathe.

I even missed your whining, which usually drives me mad.  Actually, I didn’t miss your whining but I wished you were healthy ENOUGH to whine, in theory (where I could not hear you).

I wanted to crawl into your lungs and make them come correct, damnit.

On Friday morning, I called your dad to tell him that you most likely would not be discharged until the afternoon, so no use coming by in the early morning before heading out to the office.

Your dad said, “No, I just need to come by and see our whole family together.”

Your recent hospital stay reminded me of just how much we love you and how this family needs each member.  It also made me realize that on a universal level, one is beloved just by being born.  Not into a perfect family by any means, but by virtue of being born, you are beloved by someone or some ones.

Also made me think we need to recruit more family members but I digress.

I also remembered the times you left me breathless (oof, no pun intended), just by being you.

Like when we recently went on a spring break getaway to the Berkshires, Daddy and I were sitting in the hot tub with you guys, but beating ourselves up for forgetting to bring swim floaties.

“How we gonna forget swim floaties on a hotel-swim vacation?  Where is our head?”

Micah:  “How about we just thank God that we are here?”  (Word.  Schooled by our young son.)

Or when we went to hike to a waterfall on that same vacation, you and I were able to have the most special time, walking among the logs and dead leaves, and you said, “Mommy, you know when I just don’t listen to you?  That’s my bad.  I will do better.  I know it’s not easy.”

Or when we went away just to the nearby suburb of Plainview for Mother’s Day and we said we won’t have bedtimes and we were going to eat lots of chips even after dinner.  You grew very serious and said, “This is a big night, guys.”

Or when you were lying on top of me on a bench at the Museum of Natural History in LA and I said, “Oh, I wish I had my sunglasses!” and you said, “I’ll be your sunglasses,” as you covered my eyes with your still-small face.

That was my favorite moment of our most recent trip to LA because I know that soon you will be too grown to agree to lie down on top of me like a blanket so that I can cuddle you and caress your face and tell you how you is kind and you is beautiful and you is beloved.

I even addressed that with you again, during our special hike to the waterfall, about how our relationship will change as you grow older and you answered in your usual thoughtful and literal manner.

“Mommy, when I turn into a man and you keep wanting to hug me, and you said I won’t want to hug you as much, I will at least stand there so that you can hug me.  And of course, I will visit you – my kids have to play with you!”

Thank you for getting better and breathing better today.

Thank you for joining our family and being exactly who you are, even though you prefer your Daddy these days.  And now is not the time to blow up your spot by including other less precious moments when we are butting heads down Queens Blvd.

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I love how you instinctively grabbed my wrist so that I won’t slide down.

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growing up before my eyes – hiking in North Adams, MA

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you said you didn’t know how much you actually missed ellis until he was able to visit you once you got transferred from the intermediary ICU to the regular ward

E’s Notable Quotables

I’ve been taking a break from blogging for various reasons but I’m back for this drive-by post just so I can preserve precious moments.

I mean to write them all down in my journal but it seems like I am more willing to type it out if in blog form.

Both my boys crack me up daily.

Here are a couple notable quotables from the mouth of my nearly three-and-a-half year old Ellis:

Before hitting up the playground after school, the boys scootered as I chased after them to the Japanese market in our ‘hood so that we can pick up a few onigiri (rice balls in the shape of triangles, covered with dried seaweed).

When I noticed that only the spicy ones were still available that late afternoon, I announced to the boys that the non-spicy onigiri were all gone.

E’s round eyes got even bigger as his tulip mouth pursed seriously, and he exclaimed, “Call the police!”

Another:

Ellis started a bad habit only this week, of trying to stay up past their bedtime.  We did not want to give in so we started resorting to dirty tactics when we saw him trying to sneak out of their shared room right before our eyes.

“Hey, Daddy!  Let’s get ready to watch monsters on the TV.  In the DARK like a movie theater!” (me trying to prey on his current fears)

Ellis:  I know you guys are trying to trick me.  That is NOT nice.

One more:

On the way home from church, I was explaining to Micah:

“Being smart is so relative.  Some people are blessed to be smart in one way, while other people are smart in another way.  You should never feel bad because someone else, like a classmate, seems smarter than you, because you probably smarter than them in another way.

Also, you should never show off about your smarts, either, because in life, you will always meet people who are smarter than you.”

Ellis, from the carseat next to Big Brother’s:  “Like me.”

And that’s all for today.  I hope to stay awake for Grey’s Anatomy and ease on into weekend mode early on this Thursday night.

 

Ode to Korean Spa

As I mentioned in the previous post, Kevin and I were able to visit the Korean Spa together last Saturday as part of our belated and continued wedding anniversary celebration.

We hadn’t been to one together for more than six years (I think).

We walked in and received our spa uniforms, a towel, and a toothbrush, all rolled up like a mini-sleeping bag for camp.  Or like soldiers’ supplies for battle.  After emerging from our respective locker rooms, we felt more “prepared” to relax.

Not just because we were at a spa where we didn’t have to beg our kids to please stop punching each other at Bronx Costco or please eat one more bite of food made directly by God before you can get you some Cheetos or please don’t touch brother’s nipple or Mommy’s Giovanna.

Lately, I’ve completely forgotten HOW to rest. I mostly blame the smartphone culture that I am part of, where info is always available at my fingertips. I do weird things to opt out but they aren’t long-lasting or even successful. It’s cool how Kevin doesn’t feel the same compulsion to check his phone.

Even when not working or with the kids, my mind is always running. Always one more thing to follow-up on.

Did I RSVP by the deadline (I don’t want to get scolded)?

Why must I triple-check my doc appointments since the staff keep switching things around on me?

When is the next Free Museum Day at ____________?

Is my mom working today or can she see the boys on Skype as they eat?

What are some family goals for the next month?

What else can we plan if all our summer Saturdays are accounted for?

Should I watch the Sandra Bland video though I fear I may not be able to cope?

Why do I have a vitamin D deficiency even during the summer?

Why does my left arm still tingle?

The Koreanness of our spa was what ended up easing us into relaxation mode.  Strangely, it felt like coming home though I was raised in Los Angeles and Kevin, various parts of the States, before ending up in the White town of Old Saybrook, CT.

I loved how it was homey, not fancy. It just felt like I was hanging out at a family friend’s house.

We swelled up with so much Korea Love that I had to keep Kevin from belting out “Dong Hae Mul Gwa” on his way to check out the Korean menu. He was practically skipping.

Oh how we needed this and oh how we had missed the Korean dramas they were playing on the walls. Many of our wintry, childless Saturdays were devoted to watching these sappy sagas, which we would actually rent from the video store(!) in Ktown Manhattan. The kitchen served Korean comfort food like ddukbokghee and baked eggs. Ajummas and ahjushees were just sprawled out in various stages of rest in the Jewelry Room or Salt Room or on the overstuffed leather couches.

Even when some ajummas got too loud, I had grace on them because they were my people.  I moved to another room but I wasn’t as annoyed.

I had overpacked by bringing four books when we only had four hours ‘til dinner but at least I had options.

The public bath portion upped the relaxation quotient even more. Of course public bath turned out to be epiphany time for me: I saw how I am truly middle-aged now, sandwiched between the flat-stomached, long-haired 20-something gals and the pahmah’d (permed), less firm 60-something grammas. Even this (Korean) nudity comforted me.  It was like looking at my body from years ago when I dared to think I was fat, to getting a sneak peak to Future Me.

The older ladies who did the body scrubs for spa patrons who paid for that additional service were donning their black bra and black panties, their daily uniform for climbing onto women’s backs to scrub away dead skin cells.

In between patrons, they would rest right aside the shower area, eating steamed corn and watching Korean TV. I admired them. Everyone talks about doing what you love. Find that passion, that calling. Find what gives you life. Don’t settle. I doubt that these older women dreamed about scrubbing down nekked women all day long but they were making the most of it and working hard. Respect.

And finally, what is a Korean spa experience without one of your fears coming true? I had told Kevin that I bet I would run into someone I knew while nekked. Don’t get it twisted – I love being nekked around old-time friends and strangers but not in front of familiar faces/acquaintances at small-talk level.

Immediately after I hoisted my more relaxed nekked body into the hot tub, a young girl and her gramma entered my tub. The little girl looked so familiar but I couldn’t place her. Then her FULLY CLOTHED mama ran in after her, demanding that she tie her hair before entering the tub. WHERE DO I KNOW THEM FROM!? I mentally scanned all the kiddie places I have frequented over the past five years and a-ha – I made a match.

They used to attend the same music class as one of the boys. We used to sit around in a circle, clothed, watching a White man sing and play his guitar for our kids while we accompanied him on our maracas, but there I was, buck nekked with my stomach rolls on display while this lady was covered up in her spa uniform.

Oh well, I wasn’t tripping. I just didn’t dole out my usual greetings because there is a time and place for that, and buck nekked at the Korean spa wasn’t it.

I was just relieved that there weren’t a series of bubbles floating up from under me in the still pool.

Relaxed Koreans eating American dinner after the spa

Relaxed Koreans eating American dinner after the spa

Freed People Free People

1,199,377,832 : number of Internet searches for pornography since January 1, 2015.

With that unfathomable figure on the black screen behind him, one of our church leaders shared his very personal addiction to pornography and how he was delivered from it in 1995.

I didn’t take any notes as I hung on to every word.  The sermon is not on our church’s website yet as he delivered this sermon only yesterday.  I will share it once it is up.

This was one of the most powerful sermons I have ever heard because of its very personal and raw nature.  I saw people wiping their tears as he shared his private pain.

Redd also mentioned how he came to decide to share this testimony with such a large audience.  He realized that sharing his story can bless others:  Freed People Free People.

This was particularly encouraging to me, the born Public Confesser.  Many times I wish I weren’t wired this way.  I feel like a damn fool.  Why do I always want to share?  I ain’t getting paid.

Why do I have such a compulsion to share my innards instead of keeping my status updates casual:  “Tried the new watermelon flavor blaster gum today.  YUM!”

As I sat there, watching Redd take a huge risk by sharing his secrets, I, too, wiped away a few tears that had slipped out.  I, one who has never even watched porn, connected with what he was saying.

I understand about bondage and what Apostle Paul talks about in Romans 7:15:  I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.

Redd also clarified that his sermon isn’t only addressing addiction to porn but to ANYTHING that makes us feel imprisoned.

Anger, overeating, eating disorders, drugs, shame, sex, fear, unforgiveness, blame, and so much more.  And in 2015, I’m sure there is a whole host of new addictions like addiction to our smartphones and social media so that we aren’t left alone with our own thoughts.

Redd asked the congregation to whisper in our own seats:  “I WANT TO BE SET FREE FROM ________.”

I want to be set free from ANGER.

It may be getting worse, not better, as I age.  I know that beneath the anger lies hurt but I seem to skip right over the Hurt to rush to the release of Anger.  This release is false as I don’t feel any better even after unleashing.

I am well aware of my triggers.  For one, it’s when I see others enjoying what I lack.  I know in my HEAD, that we all have different blessings but in my FEELS, I don’t see why I can’t have what others have.

*This is risky to share because I also have experienced folks enjoying being the object of my envy because it makes them feel better about themselves but that’s another topic altogether.*

I saw a woman in the locker room at a Korean spa on Saturday, the first day my MiL came over this calendar year so that Kevin and I could have a belated anniversary day to ourselves.  A whole entire day – Glory!

This woman walked in with her infant, her mom, and her MiL (or aunt).  She, herself, never tended to the baby as the doting grammas cooed over him and handled everything he needed – the undressing, the diapers, you name it.  The young mom just followed their lead and changed into her own spa uniform AT HER LEISURE.

Her leisure made my body hot.  Yes, I realize that you come to a spa to relax but how dare she relax with an infant?  THAT IS SUPPOSED TO BE IMPOSSIBLE.

I judged her for being lazy and spoiled(!) just because she was richly blessed with a day at the spa with generations above and below.

Then I checked myself and said, “Hold up, ajumma, why are you hating on that woman you’ve never met?  What is going on in there?”

I realized it was because I haven’t fully grieved being on our own these last five years as parents.  Sure, I talk about it A LOT, but I don’t think I really know what to do with the sadness I hold about my kids seeing my parents once a year.  How Kevin and I, for the most part, raise them up on our own.  When a couple church friends expressed interest in watching our kids, I actually cried because I felt SO LOVED and supported.

I have to clarify that we have great friends I’ve made since M was an infant, and we do regular playdates, but I’m talking specifically about the Family Village, which we lack.

And believe me, in my head, I know that things could be worse – at least both sets of grandparents are alive and well, at least Kevin’s mom was able to come over on Saturday. (I also struggle with GUILT for feeling my feelings!)

I also know that I am a very energetic and competent mama perhaps because it’s either Kevin or me tending to their every need, but when I see a mom of young children hardly lifting a finger because she knows that her Village will run over to her child walking dangerously in front of another child on the swings, something is triggered.

I want to learn to say, “I feel sad that my parents live so damn far away and can’t get to know my morsels as much as I’d like,” rather than, “Fuck these lazy spoiled princess mamas who don’t know how to do jack shit on their own.”

I want to be set free from my default emotion of ANGER.

I want to be set free from the guilt I feel for some of my feelings.

I want to be set free from blaming my husband when our lives aren’t quite what I pictured.

I want to be set free from criticizing.

I want to be set free from self-hatred.

Redd reminded us that FREED PEOPLE FREE PEOPLE.  What do you want to be set free from?  Let’s help each other.  Here is the passage we studied together yesterday – Isaiah 61:

Exaltation of the Afflicted:

The Year of the Lord’s Favor

61 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
    that have been devastated for generations.
Strangers will shepherd your flocks;
    foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
And you will be called priests of the Lord,
    you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations,
    and in their riches you will boast.

Instead of your shame
    you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
    you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
    and everlasting joy will be yours.

“For I, the Lord, love justice;
    I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
In my faithfulness I will reward my people
    and make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants will be known among the nations
    and their offspring among the peoples.
All who see them will acknowledge
    that they are a people the Lord has blessed.”

10 I delight greatly in the Lord;
    my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
    and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
    and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up
    and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
    and praise spring up before all nations.